The One With All The Snacking

popcornfriendsbeer

Conquering healthy meals is one thing, but we all know resisting the lure of the sugary or crispy snack is a quite another.

friendscheesecake

For us, the Sunday coffee and cake ritual has become one of the week’s major highlights as our Instagram followers will confirm.

cakes2 cakes

But during the week, and for the most part in fact, we try to keep our snacks on the healthy side to avoid those artificial sugar highs and crashing lows.

candy floss

The good news is, snacking isn’t the enemy – and that doesn’t mean we’re confining you to a celery-lined prison of misery.

brad

We’ve put together a list of tasty, healthy treats we reach for when those evening cravings descend (because box sets without snacks are like Chandler without Joey).

Popcorn

popcorn

It’s no exaggeration to say I’m obsessed with popcorn. At the minute I find myself making it a few times a week, but that’s fine because it’s not the guilty treat you might think. It’s easy too – promise promise.

I buy big packs of corn kernels from NH Foods, a wholesale continental place in Accrington, supermarkets do them too.

I weigh out about 50g if it’s just for me, heat a big pan with a tsp or so of coconut oil then chuck the kernels in, stick the lid on and await that magic pop. Takes a few minutes for them to get going so just wait until the pops die down to shake about and serve with your choice of toppings. Few ideas:

  • Himalayan pink salt or Cornish sea salt (I’m a salt freak so something of a connoisseur but any will do)
  • 1tbsp raw cacao powder, 1tsp cinnamon and a squeeze of agave or maple syrup (pictured above)
  • Sweet and salty – throw in a mixture of your salt and natural sweetener of choice (I did a batch with agave syrup last Friday night for our Lent-induced snack-deprived friend Terri and it went down a treat)

Baked banana

bananas

I went to Chaz’s for tea the other night and she whipped up the most amazing pudding in no time at all.

All she did was bake a banana each in foil for 15-20 minutes then sprinkle with cinnamon, honey and cacao nibs. You could also add the nibs first for a melt in the mouth (minus the guilt) sensation. Serve with natural yogurt, coyo or whatever you fancy (we didn’t take a picture because just like the next item, it tasted amazing but looked rubbish).

Healthy chocolate mousse

I agree this looks disgusting - but it tasted so good I was too busy tucking in to take a decent picture

I agree this looks disgusting – but it tasted so good I was too busy tucking in to take a decent picture

Melbourne’s favourite dessert according to our girl Down Under Claire, avocado makes a surprisingly perfect partner for chocolate in this healthy twist on a classic. Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.

Serves 1

  • Half a medium avocado
  • 1tbsp raw cacao powder
  • One medium banana
  • 1tbsp maple syrup, agave or honey
  • 3 pitted dates
  • 4tbsps of water
  • 1tsp of cacao nibs (optional)

(This is a take on Deliciously Ella’s healthiest chocolate mousse – I didn’t use almond butter because I didn’t have any in the first time I made it, but probably will next time)

Whizz up all but the cacao nibs in a food processor or blender (if yours is a substantial one like the Nutribullet, cheaper versions may struggle), chill in the fridge for an hour or so, sprinkle with cacao nibs then tuck in!

Dark chocolate

I was always a Dairy Milk queen until becoming a health convert. The switch happened fairly suddenly when Chaz’s boyfriend Ric bought me a bar and being the greedy monster I am, I ate it regardless and ended up enjoying it way more than I expected.

I buy Aldi’s Moser Roth 85% which is cheap, tastes great and comes in 5 individual bars – an excellent hurdle for a lifelong binge eater to attempt moderation.

Hot chocolate

hot choc

This recipe from Madeleine Shaw is easy, quick and really tasty. Deliciously Ella’s version adds almond butter which is never a bad thing.

Apple and nut butter

Almond butter makes everything taste amazing. Slice up an apple, spread a little AB (or whatever nut butter you prefer) and enjoy. Great post-run recovery snack or midweek sofa treat.

Chocolate milkshake

 pl

As a cash-strapped teen I spent many a weekend holed up in McDonald’s sharing a “vanny” – a sugar-packed vanilla milkshake – with my friend Louise after we’d scraped together the paltry earnings from our weekend jobs.

Nowadays I prefer a slightly less belly busting alternative and I’ve discovered this works equally well as an afternoon pep-up ahead of an evening run or an after dinner sweet sensation.

cacaomilkshake

Serves 1

  • 1.5 cups of almond milk
  • 2tbsps raw cacao powder
  • 1tbsp maca powder (optional but great for energy if you decide to explore super supplements)
  • Half a medium banana
  • 1tbsp almond butter (optional)
  • 1tbsp maple syrup – you may not need this if you added almond butter – taste to decide

Simple throw it all into your blender and enjoy. I make this in the morning to take to work as an afternoon boost and it keeps pretty well with a bit of a shake.

Bounce balls

bounce

Healthier treats are becoming more and more prevalent so if you can’t be bothered rustling up your own try buying them. We’ve found Bounce balls in Waitrose, Holland & Barrett and some Tesco stores and Nakd bars are popping up everywhere. Check ingredients on so-called healthy snacks as many are full of sugar and chemicals. If you can’t pronounce them, best to avoid it.

Toasty tropical parfait

Serves 1

  • 1 cup mango or pineapple chunks
  • 2tbsps Coyo or natural yogurt
  • 2tbsps flaked almonds
  • 2tbsps unsweetened coconut chips
  • Drizzle of honey, agave or maple syrup

Toast the almonds and coconut chips for a couple of minutes in a dry pan until browned, mix the fruit and yogurt in a bowl and top with your toasty treats and a squeeze of your preferred natural sweeteners.

Flapjacks

flapjack tflapjack

Recent health convert Terri tried out these flapjacks from Deliciously Ella’s cookbook and brought them round to Chaz’s last Friday night. They were so good I made them the next morning and have been snacking on them all week. Really easy and so good. If you haven’t bought the book yet it comes highly recommended by us, but if you want to try these out first give us a shout and we’ll send you the recipe.

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On portion control – I struggle massively. It’s easy to think if something’s healthy, you can go nuts with it (been there) but realistically you can’t. Healthy treats are supposedly satisfying enough to fight that urge but I know better than most how difficult this can be.

I use MyFitnessPal and weigh most things out in cups or grams to combat this (cups are the lazy girl’s way to weigh, pick a set up really cheap from your local supermarket). If binge eating is an issue for you – it is for me – it’s wise to plan for it and find ways to avoid yourself overdoing it. I find telling someone “ONLY LET ME EAT ONE OF THESE” does the job, if there’s no one handy you can always Snapchat that same message to a like-minded friend to make yourself accountable.

A brief note on treats. I read something recently that I liked and have found useful, along these lines. If you’re going to treat yourself and eat what you’ve been desperately craving and no substitute will do, make a big event of it – put it on a nice plate, make a drink to go with it, sit down and really savour every mouthful so it genuinely feels like a treat. If you’re wolfing it down secretly in the kitchen praying no one walks in and witnesses the crime it defeats the object and you know it’s the wrong thing to be doing. Plus that’s no way to treat your body – it’s not a dustbin (words I remind myself regularly).

Happy snacking!

Friends

All images taken by us or from Pinterest

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